Tag Archives: longevity

Risk of developing a disease linked to genetics tends to decrease with age

People often get sicker as they grow older, but new research from Gil McVean of the University of Oxford and colleagues finds that the impact of a person’s genes on their risk of getting sick actually wanes with age. The researchers published their new findings August 26thin the journal PLOS Genetics.

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The genes we inherit from our parents influence our risk for almost all diseases, from cancer to heart disease to autoimmune disorders. With new genomic technologies, scientists can now use a person’s genome to predict their future disease risk. However, recent work has shown that the predictive power of a person’s genetics can depend on their age, sex and ethnicity.

In the new study, McVean’s team investigated whether the risk of developing a disease posed by carrying certain genes changes as a person gets older. In other words, they wanted to know if there are windows when people are more or less likely to develop diseases linked to genetics. They used genomic data from 500,000 people in the UK Biobank to look at how their genetics impact their risk of developing 24 common diseases. While different diseases had different risk patterns, the researchers showed that a person’s genetic risk is highest early in life and then drops off for many diseases, including high blood pressure, skin cancer and underactive thyroids.

Currently, the reasons why the risk posed by a person’s genes decreases with age are not clear. The researchers suspect that there may be unknown processes at work, such interactions between a person’s genes and their environment that lead to disease. A better understanding of how age impacts a person’s risk of developing a disease linked to their genes may help researchers make more accurate predictions about whether an individual will ultimately become sick with that condition.

McVean adds, “Our work shows that the way in which genetics affects your risk of getting a disease change throughout life. For many diseases, genetic factors are most important in determining whether you will get a disease early in life, while — as you age — other factors come to dominate risk.”

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Nutrition: What You Need to Know for Healthy Aging – Johns Hopkins

When it comes to healthy aging and your diet, there are plenty of mixed up “facts” that need to be unraveled, says Johns Hopkins registered dietitian Kathleen Johnson, M.A., R.D., L.D.N. Here, she separates nutrition fact from fiction.

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Myth: You should avoid dairy as you get older.

Truth: Only if it aggravates your stomach or digestive system.

Our bodies often become less tolerant of certain foods as we get older, says Johnson. Dairy is one of them because production of the enzyme lactase, which aids in the digestion of dairy, decreases as we age.

But unless you’re not feeling well after having dairy products (symptoms such as gas and bloating), there’s no need to start shunning dairy.

Myth: You can only get calcium from dairy.

Truth: Many other foods are surprisingly good sources.

If you can’t tolerate dairy anymore (see above), you can still meet the daily recommended amount (1,300 milligrams to help prevent osteoporosis) by eating foods such as bok choy (79 milligrams per serving) and white beans (96 milligrams). Other foods with calcium: spinach (146 milligrams), salmon (181 milligrams) and sardines (325 milligrams).

Myth: You should switch to a low-carb, high-protein diet.

Truth: It’s better to follow a well-balanced eating plan that helps you maintain a healthy weight.

Protein does help build muscle mass — something our body naturally loses after the age of 50 (thus the importance of resistance training). However, Johnson says, what’s most important for those over 50 is achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

For that goal, she says, “practicing moderation, and making sure the largest food on your plate is a vegetable, followed by whole grains and protein” is important. One eating plan that most medical experts support for healthy aging is the Mediterranean diet.

Myth: You should avoid saturated fats.

Truth: Some can be good for you. Instead, focus on eating more healthy fats.

“There is good nutrition science supporting the benefits of good monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats,” Johnson says — fats found in foods such as nuts and fatty fish.

“Just don’t make fats — of any type — the largest part of your diet,” she says. Bear in mind that fats help our bodies absorb many key vitamins and minerals for healthy aging.

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Diabetes and dementia risk: More good reasons to keep blood sugar in check

There are many reasons to avoid getting diabetes, or to keep it controlled if you already have it: Higher risks for heart disease, stroke and for having a foot or leg amputation. But here’s another one: It’s a major risk factor for dementia.

While researchers are still investigating what causes that increased risk, one thing they do know is it’s linked to highs – and lows – in the body’s blood sugar levels.

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“Whether it’s Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, glycemic control is very important” for maintaining good brain health, said Rachel Whitmer, chief of the division of epidemiology at University of California, Davis and associate director of the school’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. “This is another motivation to have good control.”

Good management of blood glucose levels is one of seven lifestyle changes people can make to support better heart and brain health, called Life’s Simple 7 by the American Heart Association. It’s a step that could potentially help more than 34.2 million people in the U.S. living with diabetes.

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‘Aging well’ greatly affected by hopes and fears for later life – Study

If you believe you are capable of becoming the healthy, engaged person you want to be in old age, you are much more likely to experience that outcome, a recent Oregon State University study shows.

“How we think about who we’re going to be in old age is very predictive of exactly how we will be,” said Shelbie Turner, a doctoral student in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences and co-author on the study.

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Previous studies on aging have found that how people thought about themselves at age 50 predicted a wide range of future health outcomes up to 40 years later — cardiovascular events, memory, balance, will to live, hospitalizations; even mortality.

“Previous research has shown that people who have positive views of aging at 50 live 7.5 years longer, on average, than people who don’t,” said Karen Hooker, co-author of the study and the Jo Anne Leonard Petersen Endowed Chair in Gerontology and Family Studies at OSU.

Because self-perceptions of aging are linked to so many major health outcomes, Hooker and Turner wanted to understand what influences those perceptions. Their study looked specifically at the influence of two factors: self-efficacy associated with possible selves, meaning a person’s perceived ability to become the person they want to be in the future; and optimism as a general personality trait.

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Beyond genes and environment, random variations play important role in longevity

A new model of aging takes into account not only genetics and environmental exposures but also the tiny changes that randomly arise at the cellular level.

University Professor Caleb Finch introduced the “Tripartite Phenotype of Aging” as a new conceptual model that addresses why lifespan varies so much, even among human identical twins who share the same genes. Only about 10 to 35 percent of longevity can be traced to genes inherited from our parents, Finch mentioned.

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Finch authored the paper introducing the model with one of his former graduate students, Amin Haghani, who received his PhD in the Biology of Aging from the USC Leonard Davis School in 2020 and is now a postdoctoral researcher at UCLA. In the article, they propose that the limited heritability of aging patterns and longevity in humans is an outcome of gene-environment interactions, together with stochastic, or chance, variations in the body’s cells. These random changes can include cellular changes that happen during development, molecular damage that occurs later in life, and more.

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Key tips to a healthy lifestyle

One picture us worth a thousand words. In this case, I think the infographic counts for even more. I hope this is all old news to you and you are living it fully. As an 81 year old I can tell you that I am certainly glad to have adopted my healthy lifestyle for the past 10 years. It’s never too late. The body is an organic machine which means there is constant regeneration going on. Use it to your advantage.

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Brain’s ‘wiring insulation’ as major factor of age-related brain deterioration – Study

A new study led by the University of Portsmouth has identified that one of the major factors of age-related brain deterioration is the loss of a substance called myelin.

Myelin acts like the protective and insulating plastic casing around the electrical wires of the brain – called axons. Myelin is essential for superfast communication between nerve cells that lie behind the supercomputer power of the human brain.

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The loss of myelin results in cognitive decline and is central to several neurodegenerative diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. This new study found that the cells that drive myelin repair become less efficient as we age and identified a key gene that is most affected by ageing, which reduces the cells ability to replace lost myelin.

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Gut Microbiome Implicated in Healthy Aging and Longevity

The gut microbiome is an integral component of the body, but its importance in the human aging process is unclear. Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) researchers and their collaborators have identified distinct signatures in the gut microbiome that are associated with either healthy or unhealthy aging trajectories, which in turn predict survival in a population of older individuals. The work was just published in the journal Nature Metabolism,

Data from over 9,000 people reveal a distinct gut microbiome signature that is associated with healthy aging and survival in the latest decades of life.

The research team analyzed gut microbiome, phenotypic and clinical data from over 9,000 people – between the ages of 18 and 101 years old – across three independent cohorts. The team focused, in particular, on longitudinal data from a cohort of over 900 community-dwelling older individuals (78-98 years old), allowing them to track health and survival outcomes.

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Could playing host to hookworms help prevent aging? – Study

Evidence is mounting to suggest that some helminth worms are ‘old friend’ commensals that can help us fight inflammation and prevent age-related disease.

Parasitic worms could hold the key to living longer and free of chronic disease, according to a review article published in the open-access eLife journal.

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The review looks at the growing evidence to suggest that losing our ‘old friend’ helminth parasites, which used to live relatively harmlessly in our bodies, can cause ageing-associated inflammation. It raises the possibility that carefully controlled, restorative helminth treatments could prevent ageing and protect against diseases such as heart disease and dementia.

“A decline in exposure to commensal microbes and gut helminths in developed countries has been linked to increased prevalence of allergic and autoimmune inflammatory disorders – the so-called ‘old friends hypothesis’,” explains author Bruce Zhang, Undergraduate Assistant at the UCL Institute of Healthy Ageing, London, UK. “A further possibility is that this loss of ‘old friend’ microbes and helminths increases the sterile, ageing-associated inflammation known as inflammageing.”

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Physical Frailty Syndrome – Aging –

“There is strong evidence that frailty is both prevented and ameliorated by physical activity, with or without a Mediterranean diet or increased protein intake,” noted Fried. “These model interventions to date are nonpharmacologic, behavioral ones, emphasizing the potential for prevention through a complex systems approach.” 

In the inaugural issue of the journal Nature Aging a research team led by aging expert Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH, dean of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, synthesizes converging evidence that the aging-related pathophysiology underpinning the clinical presentation of phenotypic frailty (termed as “physical frailty” here) is a state of lower functioning due to severe dysregulation of the complex dynamics in our bodies that maintains health and resilience. When severity passes a threshold, the clinical syndrome and its phenotype are diagnosable. This paper summarizes the evidence meeting criteria for physical frailty as a product of complex system dysregulation. This clinical syndrome is distinct from the cumulative-deficit-based frailty index of multimorbiditys. The paper is published online here.

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Physical frailty is defined as a state of depleted reserves resulting in increased vulnerability to stressors that emerges during aging independently of any specific disease. It is clinically recognizable through the presence of three or more of five key clinical signs and symptoms: weakness, slow walking speed, low physical activity, exhaustion and unintentional weight loss.

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Smart food choices

Following these tips can help you maintain a healthy weight, get the nutrients you need, and lower your risk of chronic disease.

  • Try to eat and drink from these food groups each day: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. Variety is an important part of eating healthfully!
  • Cut back on foods and beverages that are high in calories and added sugars, sodium, and saturated fats. Shift to healthier options like fresh fruits and vegetables instead.
  • Instead of high-calorie snacks, such as potato chips, try nutrient-dense snacks, such as carrots.
  • Instead of fruit products with added sugars, such as fig cookies, try fresh fruit, such as a peach.
  • Instead of regular cola, try water flavored with fruits or vegetables.
  • Use a food diary to help you keep track of your total daily calories, carbs, protein, etc., and see if you are making healthy choices. Understand how many calories you need based on your level of daily activity.
  • Choose a variety of foods that are packed with nutrients and low in calories.
  • Check the food labels to understand what foods will meet your nutritional needs each day.

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Study identifies countries and states with greatest age biases

As a guy in his early 80’s working every day on making it into his ’90’s, I found it kind of disturbing that here in the States elders aren’t necessarily held in very high regard.

Elders are more respected in Japan and China and not so much in more individualistic nations like the United States and Germany, say Michigan State University researchers who conclude in a pair of studies that age bias varies among countries and even states.

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“Older adults are one of the only stigmatized groups that we all become part of some day. And that’s always struck me as interesting — that we would treat so poorly a group of people that we’re destined to become someday,” said William Chopik, assistant professor of psychology and author of the studies. “Making more equitable environments for older adults are even in younger people’s self-interests.”

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People who eat chili pepper may live longer?

  • Consumption of chili pepper may reduce the relative risk of cardiovascular disease mortality by 26%, according to an analysis of diet and mortality data from four large, international studies.
  • Chili pepper consumption was associated with a 25% reduction in death from any cause and 23% fewer cancer deaths, compared to people who never or only rarely consumed chili pepper.
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Individuals who consume chili pepper may live longer and may have a significantly reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or cancer, according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2020. The meeting will be held virtually, Friday, November 13-Tuesday, November 17, 2020, and is a premier global exchange of the latest scientific advancements, research and evidence-based clinical practice updates in cardiovascular science for health care worldwide.

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Blood Vitamin D levels can predict future health risks and death

Free, circulating Vitamin D levels in the blood may be a better predictor of future health risks in aging men, according to a study being presented at e-ECE 2020. These data suggest the free, precursor form of vitamin D found circulating in the bloodstream is a more accurate predictor of future health and disease risk, than the often measured total Vitamin D. Since Vitamin D deficiency is associated with multiple serious health conditions as we get older, this study suggests that further investigation into Vitamin D levels and their link to poor health may be a promising area for further research.

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Vitamin D deficiency is common in Europe, especially in elderly people. It has been associated with a higher risk for developing many aging-related diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and osteoporosis. However, there are several forms, or metabolites, of Vitamin D in the body but it is the total amount of these metabolites that is most often used to assess the Vitamin D status of people. The prohormone, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D is converted to 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, which is considered the active form of vitamin D in our body. More than 99% of all Vitamin D metabolites in our blood are bound to proteins, so only a very small fraction is free to be biologically active. Therefore the free, active forms may be a better predictor of current and future health.

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Diets high in protein linked to lower risk of death

Diets high in protein, particularly plant protein, are associated with a lower risk of death from any cause, finds an analysis of the latest evidence published by The BMJ.

The researchers say these findings “support current dietary recommendations to increase consumption of plant proteins in the general population.”

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Diets high in protein, particularly protein from plants such as legumes (peas, beans and lentils), whole grains and nuts, have been linked to lower risks of developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke, while regular consumption of red meat and high intake of animal proteins have been linked to several health problems.

But data on the association between different types of proteins and death are conflicting.

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Living environment may be key to longevity – Study

When it comes to living to the ripe old age of 100, good genes help but don’t tell the full story. Where you live has a significant impact on the likelihood that you will reach centenarian age, suggests a new study conducted by scientists at Washington State University’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine.

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Published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health and based on Washington State mortality data, the research team’s findings suggest that Washingtonians who live in highly walkable, mixed-age communities may be more likely to live to their 100th birthday. They also found socioeconomic status to be correlated, and an additional analysis showed that geographic clusters where the probability of reaching centenarian age is high are located in urban areas and smaller towns with higher socioeconomic status, including the Seattle area and the region around Pullman, Wash.

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